Drought in Deep South Texas and the Lower Rio Grande Valley as of January 1, 2008(click to enlarge)
Drought conditions return to the Rio Grande Valley and Deep South Texas

Rainfall across much of the area has been below normal since september 2007. According to the Climate Prediction Center, Deep South Texas and the Rio Grade Valley have received only 25 percent or less of normal precipitation during this period. Even though yearly rainfall over much of deep south texas was above normal for 2007, the majority of the rainfall occurred during the first 6 months of the year. The onset of La Niña conditions during the late summer, among other patterns, has been a contributor to the lack of rainfall over the past few months. The area has also experienced one of the warmest autumns and early winters on record. Accordingly, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated moderate drought conditions had returned to the area as of January 1, 2008 (above). The drought conditions are mainly affecting agricultural interests, including pastures and grasslands.

Falcon and Amistad Reservoirs provide much of the water for the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Abundant rainfall over Deep South Texas and Northeast Mexico during the first half of 2007 allowed both reservoirs to increase their storage levels to over 80 percent of normal conservation. Currently, storage at Amistad Reservoir is at 86 percent of normal, while storage at Falcon Reservoir has decreased to 65 percent of normal.

The early abundant rainfall of 2007 allowed lush vegetation to grow across the area. The extreme dry conditions that followed since September has allowed the vegetation to dry and turn into ignitable fuel. The combination of these dry fuels, above normal temperatures, frequent moderate to strong winds, and occasional very low humidity has allowed for an increased risk of wildfire danger. Numerous wildfires have already occurred since November. According to the Texas Forest Service, burn bans are currently in effect for Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr, Jim Hogg and Brooks Counties. Residents in these counties are strongly urged to use extreme caution when disposing of smoking materials, and refrain from all outdoor burning activities. Remember, failure to abide by an outdoor burn ban may result in criminal prosecution.

According to CPC, soil moisture over much of the area is abnormally low. Evaporation rates are averaging a tenth to a quarter of an inch. Water demands for irrigation from local reservoirs will likely increase during the next several weeks as preparation for spring planting begins. According to the State of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, there are currently 4 public water systems in Hidalgo County And 1 public water system in Cameron county which are under mild rationing.

Outlook for January 7th through January 21st

A steady progression of upper level low pressure troughs will prevail across the central portions of the U.S. over the next 7 days or so. This will push a series of cold fronts through the area, allowing temperatures to gradually fall to or below average by the weekend. However, the overall period will likely remain above average. In addition, there is the possibility of a bit of welcome rainfall, as the potential exists for moisture to overrun the cooler air near the surface. Unfortunately, the rainfall does not appear to be significant enough to put much more than a dent in the longer term drought conditions at the present time.

One to two week precipitation forecast as of January 7 2008 (click to enlarge)
Rainfall forecast for January 15 to 21, 2008. Though forecast favors above normal chances for rain, significant wetting rains may not occur.

Longer range guidance indicates that a broad upper level trough will prevail over the area from January 14th through January 21st. This will likely result in near normal temperatures for the region. However...overall moisture levels will likely remain fairly limited across the area through this period. Thus, little or no significant rainfall is expected beyond January 14th. The long range climate outlook for February and March 2008, derived from guidance from CPC, indicates that with moderate to strong La Niña conditions, among other patterns, prevailing through the Spring, below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures will be expected across all of Deep South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. The U.S. seasonal drought outlook (below) and other guidance indicates that drought conditions will persist or intensify. Check our website for further updates of this developing drought situation. For the latest reservoir information, check out the International Boundary and Water Commission's website .

Seasonal Drought Outlook, through March 2008
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